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CRITFC Chairman Carlos Smith welcomes EPA Adminstrator Gina McCarthy to the tribal meeting.

CRITFC Chairman Carlos Smith welcomes EPA Adminstrator Gina McCarthy to the tribal meeting.

Tribal leaders met with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy in the CRITFC commission chambers in Portland on April 15. Administrator McCarthy is President Obama’s chief environmental advocate. At the meeting, tribal leaders stressed their concerns over the transport of fossil fuels through the Columbia River Gorge and the importance of rail safety, climate change policies, and strong regional water quality standards. CRITFC Chairman Carlos Smith, warm springs, shared with McCarthy his concerns for the state of Columbia Basin waterways. “Fish advisories, high rates of cancer, and polluted waters are plaguing our communities and our foods,” said Smith. “Addressing water quality issues must be a priority.” “The fact that water is polluted is disturbing,” Administrator McCarthy responded. “That’s what got us into this business. The challenges are getting more complex. What isn’t complex is our commitment to clean water, air, and land.” Commissioner Kathryn Brigham, umatilla, spoke of the importance of working together to address challenges facing the region. “We have been fighting very hard to get our resources protected and it’s not just for us, it is for our future generations,” Brigham explained. “But we can’t do it alone. We need work together through partnership and collaboration in order to make that happen.” In her closing remarks, McCarthy shared her appreciation for and duty to the tribes. “EPA’s priority is to institutionalize what we have learned about working with the tribes,” McCarthy said. “I work for a President who really believes that we have a tremendous amount of work to do and that our obligations with the tribes haven’t been met. We want to make sure the door he opened with you never gets shut.” EPA-group-photo

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